September 30, 2010
natural stress relievers
chicken-watching: a very natural stress-reliever
The last few weeks have been kind of stressful.
Job craziness, car troubles, all sorts of unexpected household repairs costing too much money, and lots of sickness in our house: it has all added up to way too much stress.
So I'm taking advantage of the fact that it's my turn to write a Sew Green post to give some thought to natural & sustainable ways to relieve stress. Perhaps it will help me chill out a bit.
When I'm stressed out, I am much more likely to do things that are awfully bad for the environment, like eating junk food and buying stuff I don't need. Driving instead of taking the time to bike where I'm going. Stuff like that. Just noticing that sometimes helps me to avoid doing those things. So what are the really positive things I can do to relieve stress? I'm going to make a list. And I really want to see what you all have to add to the list!
I love yoga. If I don't get to class every week, I really miss it. Yoga works out the kinks in my body and my mind. When I'm crazy busy, I don't make time for yoga at home. But if I can force myself to make a quiet space for a few minutes for a bit of practice, it helps so much. When I can hardly make myself do it (which is often), I like to use these short (15-20 minutes) streaming yoga videos from YogaJournal.com to guide me through a nice little practice.
cooking a meal
Cooking healthy food is one of the first things out the window when I'm feeling stressed and busy. But I also find that it's a great way to break the cycle, force myself to stop and do something wonderful that takes a little time and is good for me. Plus, if you're craving comfort food, making it yourself can be doubly relaxing.
Nothing transports me to my happy place like a good novel. I sometimes find myself desperately racking our bookshelves for a new book to read when things get tough. I love to lose myself in another reality. And I find that reading before bed really helps me to fall asleep quickly and to sleep peacefully (if I can put my book down). Which brings me to...
Oh my gosh, what could be better than sleep?? I am an 8-hours-a-night kind of gal, but unfortunately my life is more like 7-hours-if-I'm-lucky. Nothing compounds my stress like sleep deprivation. The best thing I can do for myself is to go to bed early (preferably with a good book to help me off to dreamland).
Like most people, I need a little exercise every day to help me relax and sleep well. Whenever I start to feel really anxious and full of nervous energy that won't let me rest, it's a sure symptom of not-enough-exercise. The best thing I can do for myself in that situation is to drop everything and go for a long bike ride or a sweaty yoga practice.
time with friends
Today I attended a really frustrating and stressful conference. Luckily I had carpooled with a friend, and just venting together on the ride home helped so much. It helped even more that afterwards I went by her house and had a beer with her family in the backyard. We laughed and watched their chickens scratch around and generally chilled out for a little while. It wasn't a long time, but it sure was therapeutic.
So that's my list. I'd love to hear what some of your strategies are for letting go of stress! Now I think I'll go practice a few downward-dogs.